This story is from UCLA Today, a discontinued print and web publication.

There's a new face on Facebook: Chancellor Gene Block

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Chancellor Gene Block on FacebookIf you know what Chancellor Gene Block's been reading lately for pleasure, how he likes to spend his free time and what restaurants he favors (Chef Josiah Citrin's award-winning Mlisse Restaurant in Santa Monica and In-N-Out Burger), chances are you've already discovered his brand-new Facebook page.

Brimming with personal tidbits and photos of him in his role as a university executive as well as a car mechanic and weekend fisherman, the chancellor's Facebook page, a project developed by University Communications, is a fun, interactive way to connect with Gene Block. Launched on Monday, Feb. 23, it's already begun to draw the attention of students, the main audience for this social networking site, but also of UCLA employees who like this up-close-and-personal way of getting to know the Big Boss.

"The reason the chancellor wanted a Facebook page was to have this very interactive and direct way of connecting more closely with students primarily, but also young alumni," said Lawrence Lokman, assistant vice chancellor of university communications. "There are other campus websites that Chancellor Block uses to communicate with various constituencies. But many students prefer to communicate with each other through social networking sites. Now they can more easily connect with the chancellor that way."

Chancellor Block meeting studentsMichael P. Richards, administrative specialist at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, a screenwriter and hospital volunteer, was one of the first staff members to peruse the chancellor's Facebook page after reading about it in the Daily Bruin.

"Facebook is such a great mode of communication/connection to the global world, so I joined the chancellor's fan club as UCLA staff," Richards said. "I don't know whether Facebook will bring our chancellor closer to faculty, staff or students, but it is an effective, quick and easy way for everyone to go online and send an e-mail message to him."

It also adds a new dimension to the persona many employees know only as the skillful leader who drives this giant research university forward. Pictures and videos tell much of his story. There he is hosting a Bruin Bash at his alma mater, Stanford. Here he poses with smiling alumni in South Korea. He's all over the UCLA campus. But in one YouTube video, he's delivering the commencement address at Santa Monica College.

Chancellor Block fishingScattered among these glimpses of his official duties are a few vacation photos from Kyoto, Japan, and Tibet, and favorite shots of his wife, Carol, building a house in Lynwood with other Habitat for Humanity volunteers. There's also a photo that only a car enthusiast can truly appreciate: a close-up of a shiny Porsche engine he's rebuilt.

Communication goes two ways: Anyone can post comments on The Wall. Plus, students are invited to join an online discussion to tell the chancellor what they think of their experience at UCLA. "Do you get the classes you need?" he asks. "Are you satisfied with your access to faculty and the quality of the academic advisement you receive? Is our campus climate comfortable for you? Please send me your thoughts."

Responses to questions or comments will come from the chancellor as well as UCLA's senior executives.

Take time to check it out here.
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